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Chief & Council Visit Klahoose Members in Auburn, Washington

When the United States and Canada are brought up in conversation around the world it is said that we are really similar. Our accents to outsiders are the same and it really takes a person a long time of living in North America to spot the differences. It’s also said that two thirds of Canada’s population lives within a hundred miles of the US border. In some sense you could say that Canada and the United States are sister nations. However, on a day-to-day basis we tend to be strict on our nationalities and identity.

Aside from the Canadian/American identity, it can be said that First Nations act the same way. We are a part of the Komox Tribe, but in our hearts we are Klahoose. The Klahoose First Nation is a relatively small nation, and the amount of people living on reserve is even smaller. The population is roughly 50 to 60 people strong, and the nation is almost 400 strong. Where are all the band members? They are spread all throughout the land, and reaches even to the southern depths of the United States of America. It is tough to be a part of a community when you’re so far away, and Chief and Council realise this. Chief and Council travelled to Auburn, Washington to the Pielle/Redarte residence to try and bridge the gap between Klahoose community, and the borderline.

There was a house at the end of a long dirt road that was lined with trees, and mountains blanketed in snow as a backdrop. The Rodarte family home is picture perfect amongst the farmland near the Muckleshoot Reservation. The early 60s is when the Pielle/Rodarte family established themselves in Washington. It took the family a few times of trying to move there, but eventually they dug their roots into the ground. The family moved from British Columbia to Auburn so they could escape the dreadful grasp of the residential schools. Although the family is in a different country they have been trying their best to keep in contact with the Klahoose First Nation, and what has going on. The Chief and Council travelled to Auburn to make a stronger connection of communication, and there is no better way than to show up, knock on the door, and have a presence in person. The Rodarte family is a big family, and on November 15, 2014 most of the family was sitting in the 212 Avenue living room for a question period like situation. Chief James Delorme, and Councillors Kathy Francis, Kevin Peacey, and Mavis Kok sat at the front of the room to answer any questions Auburn Klahoose members might be curious about.

Like any concerned Klahoose member they would definitely want to know what plans are laid for the future and future generations. The questions ranged from what stage of treaty process is Klahoose currently in, and how was the Treaty surveys a benefit to those living outside of the Klahoose reserve. Also, what does the band plan to do with the land when treaty goes through? Someone amongst crowd of people spoke up, “we can’t come back [home] if there is no land to build on.” So what is the plan? There are certainly ideas floating around, but James said, “It is these kinds of meetings that help us decide what we may do for the future. It could be space dedicated to health care, or apartment buildings so more members can move back home.” There are many economic plans in place, but it will take time to generate enough revenue to actually put the work boots on, and get the project started. It is predicted that perhaps in 20 or 30 years time that Klahoose might go through an economic “slump”, and planning for the future to make its way out of the slump as painless as possible is something that Chief and Council have been bringing a lot of attention to. When dealing with a community, it’s best to prepare for the worst, but expect the best. However, it would not do anyone good if things were not thought about realistically: optimism for ideas, and realism for planning. For leadership is meant to look forwards towards the future, the past shall be critically studied, and the present shall be appreciated for getting here. Not only were things questioned that are going on, but also questions of what was to become. New ideas about finance, and community infrastructure were being flipped over, and viewed from a different perspectives. This in turn brought new material and ideas to Klahoose leadership. This trip was a reminder to all that there are many horizons that can be ventured down, and direct communication is a steadfast way to creating a direction.

The evening was brisk, but the household was warm. There was food served so everyone’s bellies were full. The Chief and Council responded to questions from members over top of children yelling and running around. The décor of the home showed that the Rodarte/Pielle live a life as a family that sticks together. Home, for everyone is different, but Klahoose is a far spread community and it was a refresher to the eyes of those leading the Klahoose Nation.